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Invitation (1952)

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Origin and Chart Information
Undoubtedly it’s tenor saxophonist John Coltrane’s 1958 recording that is to great extent responsible for the composition’s standard status.

- Chris Tyle

Rank 252
Music Bronislau Kaper
Lyrics Paul Francis Webster

Bronislau Kaper composed the score for the 1950 film A Life of Her Own, starring Lana Turner as a model who’s having an affair with a married man played by Ray Milland. Kaper’s film score was nominated for a Golden Globe award, but the picture did not do well at the box office. However, the lush and haunting score was so appealing that it was used for a second film in 1952, Invitation, starring Dorothy Maguire and Van Johnson. Paul Francis Webster wrote the lyric for Kaper’s main theme, called simply “Invitation.” So although Kaper wrote the melody in 1950, the song’s date is usually given as 1952.


More on Bronislau Kaper at JazzBiographies.com

More on Paul Francis Webster at JazzBiographies.com

Webster had collaborated with Duke Ellington on 1941’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” and won two Academy Awards with Sammy Fain for “Secret Love” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” and another with Johnny Mandel for “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Kaper (whose first name is sometimes spelled “Bronislaw”) won an Oscar for his 1953 score for the film Lili and wrote two other songs which have entered the jazz repertoire: “On Green Dolphin Street” and “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm.”

Kaper’s unforgettable melody is admirably matched by Webster’s equally haunting and somewhat mysterious lyric:

Wherever I go you’re the glow of temptation,
Glancing my way in the grey of the dawn
And always your smile holds that strange invitation
Then you are gone
Where oh where have you gone?

George Shearing arranged “Invitation” for piano, and Frank Mantooth wrote a Latin arrangement of the song. Rosemary Clooney recorded it in 1963 with a lush background arranged by Nelson Riddle. Without ever having charted, “Invitation” seeped into the jazz standard repertoire. Just since 2000 it has been recorded by vocalists Freddy Cole, Andy Bey, Patricia Barber, and the New Four Freshmen; pianists Rene Rosnee, Randy Halberstadt, and Steve Kuhn; saxophonists Herb Geller, Vincent Herring, and Don Braden; trumpeter Brian Lynch, bassist Ray Drummond, and Bob Florence Limited Edition. It is also featured on the soundtrack of For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story.

- Sandra Burlingame

Recommendations for This Tune
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Patricia Barber
2000 Blue Note 27290
Original recording 2000
Barber utilizes her two main weapons on this piece: her sultry vocal delivery (a throwback to the smoky lounges of yesteryear) and her refined piano playing which celebrates the songwriter as much as the song.
Joe Henderson
Original recording 1967
Saxophonist Henderson treats the listener to a heavy session of deconstruction, taking his horn to the very edge, sonically and improvisationally, without compromising accessibility.
Lucky Thompson
Lucky Strikes
1991 Original Jazz Classics 194
Original recording 1964
Warm of tone and succinct of phrase, tenor saxophonist Thompson leads a tight-knit group through a samba-driven rendition of the song.
Andy Bey
Tuesdays in Chinatown
2001 Encoded Music
Original recording 1991
With bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis vocalist/pianist Bey lends a touch of exotica to the opening phrases. The group takes the song slightly more up tempo than is customary, and Bey’s piano solo is as beautifully jagged as the intense rhythm.

- Ben Maycock

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